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A Chicago Homeowner’s Guide to Frozen Burst Pipes

When a fresh blanket of snow covers the ground, the city looks like a winter wonderland. When Chicago temperatures plunge below freezing, you’re not thinking about the scenery. You’re worried about the pipes freezing.

It happens every year to countless homeowners all across Chicagoland. Our teams stay busy taking care of burst pipe water damage.

We’re often asked about the best ways to deal with the problem, so we’ve put together this guide. Read on for everything you need to know about frozen burst pipes in your Chicago home or business.

What Happens When Your Pipes Freeze?

frozen water pipe chicago

“How cold does it have to be for pipes to burst?” That’s one of the questions we hear from our customers every winter. Unprotected pipes freeze at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s not that simple.

Without proper insulation, long exposure to the cold can freeze pipes at just below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As water turns into ice, its volume increases by 9% and exerts pressure as high as 40,000 psi on your home’s plumbing.

Whether it happens inside a wall or down in the basement, a ruptured pipe can spill hundreds of gallons of water per minute. It’s not a good idea to wait for frozen pipes to thaw on their own. You can’t be sure about how long it takes for pipes to unfreeze. You can be sure that when pipes burst, the water damage spreads very quickly.

How to Know If a Frozen Pipe Burst: 5 Signs to Watch For

burst water pipe in chicago home

Knowing how to check for a frozen burst pipe makes it easier to stay ahead of this home disaster.

If your pipes are frozen and in danger of bursting, chances are good you’ll notice one or more of these clues.

1. No water or low flow from open faucets
2. Unusual smells from drains in the kitchen and bathrooms
3. Pipe surfaces that are freezing to the touch or covered with frost
4. Sudden appearance of wet spots on walls or floors
5. Unexpected wet areas around exterior foundation walls

What to Do If a Frozen Pipe Bursts In Your Chicago Home

frozen pipe burst in chicago

When a pipe freezes and ruptures, the effects are immediate. Water damage spreads quickly behind walls, under floors and even through ceilings on lower floors. You need to address the situation right away.

These six steps outline how to deal with a frozen burst pipe in your home or at your business.

1. Turn Off the Water Supply

Locate and close the valve that controls water to the broken pipe. You might need to turn off water coming into the house at the main shutoff valve.

2. Unplug Nearby Appliances

Turn off and unplug any appliances near wet floors or walls. In case of widespread water damage, turn off the electricity at the breaker box.

Power Tip: If your breaker box is in the basement, make sure the area is dry before turning off the electricity. If you have any doubts about safety, call ComEd right away.

3. Clear the Area

Move furniture and belongings away from wet walls and floors. Mop up as much water as possible. If the flooding is extensive, plan on letting a water damage professional take care of repairs, cleanup and remediation.

4. Call Your Insurance Company

Contact your homeowners insurance company, and explain the situation. Give them an overview of damages caused by the pipe burst. If you don’t already have a water damage pro on call, ask your insurance agent for a reference.

5. Call ServiceMaster of Lake Shore

As one of Chicago’s best water damage professionals, we’re here when you need us. A quick response makes a big difference in getting things under control. Our industry-certified technicians take care of repairs, water damage mitigation and property restoration. Give us a call when you need help: 312 -707-8597

6. Document the Damage for Insurance Purposes

Take pictures and videos of the damage caused by the frozen burst pipes. Save the documentation so that you can share it with the insurance adjuster. Your restoration professional can help you work through the claims process.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair Frozen Pipes That Burst in Chicago?

Repairing a burst frozen pipe can cost as little as $200 to $500 or as much as $1,000 to $2,000. Final costs can be affected by pipe location, extent of structural damage, necessary tear-outs and reconstruction.

Is the Damage Caused by Frozen Burst Pipes Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

In most cases, damages from ruptured frozen pipes are covered by homeowners insurance. Typically, this includes repairs, cleanup, remediation and restoration.

If you aren’t sure about policy details, call your agent. He or she can explain the types of water damage covered by your homeowners insurance. Your restoration professional can help with the frozen burst pipe insurance claim process.

How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing in Your Home

pipe insulation

The best defense against a Chicago hard freeze starts with being prepared. Check insulating supplies before temperatures plunge. Make sure you have the basics.

Use these tips to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Keep water moving through pipes by letting hot and cold faucets drip.
  • Leave cabinet doors open under sinks so that warm air circulates around pipes.
  • Don’t turn the thermostat down below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use pipe sleeves or wraps to protect pipes in the basement, attic and garage.
  • Prevent pipes from freezing and bursting in crawl spaces by temporarily blocking vents with polystyrene foam.
  • Keep outdoor water pipes from freezing with heat tape or heat cables.
  • Secure insulated covers over outdoor spigots and hose bibs.

Need Help With Frozen Burst Pipes in Chicago IL? We’re Just a Phone Call Away!

Dealing with frozen burst pipes isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it by yourself. We can help with a full line of certified water damage services and a 24/7 response. From addressing burst pipe repairs to property-wide cleanup and restoration, we’re ready for your call.

When you need help from Chicago’s most trusted water damage specialists, you can depend on our teams here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore: 312-707-8597